Significant changes in our world are going on right now and will continue as GenYers and Millennials become our future leaders.
They could be the antidote to outdated work legacies we hold on to. Legacies such as people daring not to have children for fear of losing career momentum, 70 hour work weeks and 90% travel, or militaristic leadership models with competencies such as “command skills” or “drive for results,” based on economic models of market domination and penetration that assume constant growth in markets that may be becoming untenable in the long run.
Companies have felt the pressure by Millennials to evolve. Sheer numbers drive this: one in every three employees in the U.S. will be a millennial by the end of 2014, rising to 50% by 2016, and by 2025 they will make up 75 percent of the global workforce, according to Forbes. (Why You Can’t Ignore Millennials,” Dan Schawbel. 9/4/2013)
Born between 1982 and 1993, there are over 80 million Millennials, which is larger than any other generation. They have been affected by the events of September 11th, the housing bust and the financial meltdown. They tend to have a large debt load, are not “traditionalists,” suffer larger unemployment rates than other generations, and tend not to trust, yet still want to make a difference and be good parents. Millennials are tech savvy, diverse, connected and are activists for personal rights such as gay marriage and healthcare.
This is not just all theory or statistics. We have been out talking with people from all walks of life, from self-employed entrepreneurs to staff working within varied organizations. Intelligent professionals in their twenties and thirties have shared, in passing, that they left the corporate world after being forced to work 90 hour weeks, being “complicit” in treating staff as cogs in wheels or “inhumanely,” or being told by their manager that they had no career development path at their Fortune 100 company. One Fortune 100 hi-tech company manager actually told his seasoned team member, “go ahead and leave if you want to gather more experience. We need you to stay in the sales call center. We do not offer career development options.”
The GenYers and Millenials I have recently spoken with have desirable degrees, relevant expertise and strong communication skills. Interestingly, several of them had left the workforce to pursue business on their own terms. An MBA with a specialty in marketing had become a self-sustaining jewelry artist within five years of leaving the corporate world; another had become a yoga instructor and musician; and another is leaving for vet school.
Refreshingly, these younger generations tend not to be driven by the notion of keeping their job. They will not maintain status quo to suit others. Yes, younger generations may not have the length of experience older generations possess but they have fresh, valuable perspectives. For example, for decades women have been advocating for better work-life balance support in the workplace. (Women tend to do the majority of child- and elder-care in society.)
Progress has indeed been made. Some may argue at a snail’s pace, and not nearly enough. Millennials (and GenYers,) will accelerate these positive changes. Increasingly coming into positions of influence, they fully intend to work and live in more integrated ways so that they can enjoy their children rather than stress about them - just as one example of how they will change the game. These shifts will ripple into broader society, hopefully with outcomes like youth feeling more valued and connected. As a Baby Boomer-GenXer I fully support the input of younger people.
The time has come to listen to the next generations of leaders as they prepare to inherit our business legacies.
If you are interested in joining a diverse work group to co-create the next evolution of a vital workforce, join us for our September salon in Austin, TX. Details will be published on our site.
What We Have Been Up To
Women’s Action Tanks in San Francisco and Austin, TX
We gathered diverse women and men to dialogue about the issue of retaining female talent in the workplace, and ignite action to co-create more vital workforces.
Savvy, community-minded professionals from a diversity of quality organizations attended in Austin. Baby Boomers formed the majority of that group with some GenXers. In San Francisco, 50 GenYers and Millennials attended, hungry to hear about modeling new leadership paradigms that allow more authenticity.
Some themes that emerged in both groups include:
· The perception that Baby Boomers are "too by the book," and at fault for mandating norms that no longer serve other generations, such as male-dominated leadership models, having to wear "masks" at work rather than allowed to be authentic
· Millennials fear that they will lose their jobs
· Millennials feel that they are not really allowed to share their honest opinions
· Companies are losing female technical talent because technical leadership tracks are too rigid, male in nature (e.g., driven by competition, ego, win-lose mentality,) corporate cultures are slow to adapt to today's realities and workforce needs, it is easier to move into general management
· There is a great opportunity for community leadership non-profits such as Leadership Austin and Chambers of Commerce to support and provide a service for the corporate world. They provide a quality forum for Millennials to network, build, and expand skills by working on meaningful community projects.
Women’s Action Tank: “Get It Done” Meeting, June 24, noon-2pm, Austin, TX
“Finish It Up” Group Work Session for Women’s Action Tank. Location to be finalized.
Salon, Living an Integrated Life, September, Austin, TX
Exploring the shift from “work-life balance” to “living an integrated life.”
Renewal Retreat, Saturday September 13, Austin, Texas
Take time to step back and reflect on where you are and where you want to go. Get some inspiration and rejuvenation to fuel yourself.
Come back to our website for more details, or contact us.
Sheila Armitage helps individuals and organizations adopt everyday resilience practices that boost work, home, and health.